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He was the familiar friend of Hicks and Nelson ; a man of letters, but injudicious; and very curious and inquisitive, but credulous. He lived in 1743, or 44, about seventy-five years old.”
The subject of luxury having been introduced, Dr. Johnson defended it. “ We have now,” said he, “a splendid dinner before us; which of all these dishes is unwholesome ?” The duke asserted, that he had observed the grandees of Spain diminished in their size by luxury. Dr. Johnson politely refrained from opposing directly an observation which the duke himself had made ; but said, “ Man must be very
different from other animals, if he is diminished by good living; for the size of all other animals is increased by it.” I made some remark that seemed to imply a belief in second-sight. The duchess said, “I fancy you will be a methodist.” This was the only sentence her grace deigned to utter to me; and I take it for granted, she thought it a good hit on my credulity in the Douglas cause.
A gentleman in company, after dinner, was desired by the duke to go to another room, for a specimen of curious marble, which his grace wished to show
He brought a wrong piece, upon which the duke sent him back again. He could not refuse; but, to avoid any appearance of servility, he whistled as he walked out of the room, to show his independency. On my mentioning this afterwards to Dr. Johnson, he said, it was a nice trait of character.
Dr. Johnson talked a great deal, and was so entertaining, that Lady Betty Hamilton, after dinner,
went and placed her chair close to his, leaned upon the back of it, and listened eagerly. It would have made a fine picture to have drawn the sage and her at this time in their several attitudes. He did not know, all the while, how much he was honoured. I told him afterwards, I never saw him so gentle and complaisant as this day. (1)
We went to tea. The duke and I walked up and down the drawing-room, conversing. The duchess still continued to show the same marked coldness for me; for which, though I suffered from it, I made every allowance, considering the very warm part that I had taken for Douglas, in the cause in which she thought her son deeply interested. Had not her grace discovered some displeasure towards me, I should have suspected her of insensibility or dissimulation. Her grace
made Dr. Johnson come and sit by her, and asked him why he made his journey so late in
Why, Madam,” said he, “ Mr. Boswell must attend the court of session, and it does not rise till the twelfth of August.” She said, with some sharpness, “ I know nothing of Mr. Boswell.” Poor Lady Lucy Douglas (?), to whom I mentioned this, observed, “ She knew too much of Mr. Boswell.” I shall make no remark on her grace's speech. I indeed felt it as rather too severe; but when I recollected that my punishment was in
(1) Because, perhaps, he had never before seen him in such high company.-C.
(2) Lady Lucy Graham, daughter of the second Duke of Montrose, and wife of Mr. Douglas, the successful claimant: she died in 1780.-C.
flicted by so dignified a beauty, I had that kind of consolation which a man would feel who is strangled by a silken cord. Dr. Johnson was all attention to her grace. He used afterwards a droll expression, upon her enjoying the three titles of Hamilton, Brandon, and Argyle. Borrowing an image from the Turkish empire, he called her a duchess with three tails.
He was much pleased with our visit at the castle of Inverary. The Duke of Argyle was exceedingly polite to him, and, upon his complaining of the shelties which he had hitherto ridden being too small for him, his grace told him he should be provided with a good horse to carry him next day.
Mr. John M'Aulay passed the evening with us at our inn. When Dr. Johnson spoke of people whose principles were good, but whose practice was faulty, Mr. M'Aulay said, he had no notion of people being in earnest in their good professions, whose practice was not suitable to them. The doctor grew warm, and said, “ Sir, are you so grossly ignorant of human nature, as not to know that a man may be very sincere in good principles, without having good practice ?”
Dr. Johnson was unquestionably in the right; and whoever examines himself candidly will be satisfied of it, though the inconsistency between principles and practice is greater in some men than in others.
I recollect very little of this night's conversation. I am sorry that indolence came upon me towards the conclusion of our journey, so that I did not write
down what passed with the same assiduity as during the greatest part of it.
Tuesday, Oct. 26. — Mr. M'Aulay breakfasted with us, nothing hurt or dismayed by his last night's correction. Being a man of good sense, he had a just admiration of Dr. Johnson.
Either yesterday morning, or this, I communicated to Dr. Johnson, from Mr. M'Aulay's information, the news that Dr. Beattie had got a pension of two hundred pounds a year. He sat up in his bed, clapped his hands, and cried, “O brave we! a peculiar exclamation of his when he rejoices. (1)
As we sat over our tea, Mr. Home's tragedy of Douglas was mentioned. I put Dr. Johnson in mind, that once, in a coffee-house at Oxford, he called to old Mr. Sheridan, “ How came you, Sir, to give Home a gold medal for writing that foolish play ?”. and defied Mr. Sheridan to show ten good lines in it. He did not insist they should be together; but that there were not ten good lines in the whole play. He now persisted in this. I endeavoured to defend that pathetic and beautiful tragedy, and repeated the following passage :
To take dissimulation's winding way."
(1) Having mentioned, more than once, that my Journal was perused by Dr. Johnson, I think it proper to inform my readers that this is the last paragraph which he read.
which this is not. Juvenal, indeed, gives us a noble picture of inflexible virtue:
“ Esto bonus miles, tutor bonus, arbiter idem
Integer: ambiguæ si quando citabere testis,
Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.” (1) He repeated the lines with great force and dignity; then added, “ And, after this, comes Johnny Home, with his earth gaping, and his destruction crying ! -- pooh !" (2)
While we were lamenting the number of ruined religious buildings which we had lately seen, I spoke with peculiar feeling of the miserable neglect of the chapel belonging to the palace of Holyrood-house, in which are deposited the remains of many of the kings of Scotland, and of many of our nobility. I said it was a disgrace to the country that it was not repaired; and particularly complained that my
(1) “ An honest guardian, arbitrator just,
Be thou; thy station deem a sacred trust.
That for which only man should wish to live." For this and the other translations to which no signature is affixed, I am indebted to the friend whose observations are mentioned in the notes, antè, Vol. IV. p. 77., and post, 152.B. - Probably Dr. Hugh Blair.-C.
(2) I am sorry that I was unlucky in my quotation. But notwithstanding the acuteness of Dr. Johnson's criticism, and the power of his ridicule, the tragedy of Douglas still continues to be generally and deservedly admired.